Category Archives: Work

Still Kickin’

I guess now is as good a time as any to post. Hi folks, remember me? Yep, I’m still alive. I’m going to use a little trick I learned from Nathan to keep track of what I want to say in this post:

1. Interviews
2. Freelance
3. Car Repairs
4. Har-B-Que

1. Interviews

Yes, I am still without full-time salaried employment, but I have found that I am loving it. In fact, I’ve been busier over the past month than I was in the four months prior, so it turns out, getting laid off was a huge boon to my productivity.

But I have interviewed at a couple places, some more desirable than others, but the more interviews I do, the better I get at them. I haven’t been officially “turned down” yet, so I’m kind of in “waiting-to-hear-back limbo.” There’s one job that I’d really like to get, one that I’ll be okay if I don’t get, and one that, while not my ideal position, is with a good company any would be a great foot-in-the-door there.

Why am I so busy? Well, I’ve still got the part-time job, but in addition to that, I’ve been …

2. Freelancing

Yep, I’m now an “Independent Professional” (according to my LinkedIn profile). I’ve got a couple projects going on right now that are keeping me pretty busy. One that allows me to work at home, and another that takes me back to my previous, previous job, which is a lot more surreal than I expected. Will this trend continue? No one can really say for sure, which is one reason I’m still interviewing. I’m trying to make it work, because, as it turns out, working from home is really nice.

3. Car Repairs

In my last, rather ambiguous post, I posted a picture of my lovely car with some not-so-lovely damage that I inflicted on it myself. So, here’s the story in a nutshell:

Late one Thursday about three weeks ago, I was leaving the part-time job, where I have to park on the top floor of a four-story parking garage on the Country Club Plaza. Since it was late, the roof of the garage was mostly empty, and my car was the last one in its row. So, instead of backing straight out of my parking spot like an intelligent person, I turned my wheels and backed out at an angle. This would have worked anywhere else, but I forgot that I had parked next to a three-foot-tall cement pillar, and here it is:

pillar.jpg

I was parked where that Escort Wagon is. When I checked over my right shoulder before backing out, I, of course, didn’t see anything, because as you can tell, the damn pillar is three feet tall. After I started moving, something in my subconscious reminded me the pillar was there, and I whipped my head around mere micro-seconds before hitting it, so I got to see the whole thing. Except there was nothing to actually see, because the damn pillar is three feet tall! All I saw was the movement of the car stop abruptly while an expensive-sounding crunch filled my ears.

I got out to survey the damage, which you see in the previous post. You can tell by the crease in the front fender exactly how tall the pillar is, and you might also be able to tell that if the pillar had been just one inch taller, it would have completely taken off my passenger-side mirror.

So, that’s that. I was mad at myself at first, and also embarrassed because the tire was loudly rubbing on the inner fender for the drive home. Then I realized, hey, it’s just a car. Even if it’s a car that I love like a member of the family (which i do), it’s still just a car, and it will be fixed. It could have been a lot worse, and I’d rather that it was me that caused the damage than someone else, like a friend or relative (or wife).

Sonja and I dropped it off last Monday night (Memorial Day evening) at the bodyshop with the promise that it would be done by Friday. Well, auto repair being what it is, and my history with cars being what it is, I knew fully well that it would not be done when promised. Part of that is because the replacement door skin was damaged upon arrival at the shop, and another part is that the holiday pushed everything back a little bit (parts’ arrivals, the queue at the bodyshop, etc.). Another small part is that auto repair, like weather forecasting, is not an exact science, and all timelines and dates are merely suggestions. Again, because I was anticipating this, I wasn’t surprised when I learned that it would not be ready on Friday. It is, however, supposed to be done today (Monday, June 2nd), but I have no way to get to the body shop before they close, and likely won’t until Wednesday morning, but that’s okay. Sonja has been a real champ letting me share her car for the past week, and it has allowed us to spend quality time together as I drop her off and pick her up at work.

4. Har-B-Que

Finally, Sunday, May 30th, was the Seventh Annual Har-B-Que, hosted by Kyle’s brother, Brian Harbaugh. This year’s was the biggest turnout so far (I think). It was so hot, though, that by the end of the day I was so sunburned and tired that I could only manage to finish a few babyback ribs and call it a day. We didn’t win any trophys, but we did have fun. Maybe next year we could do the grilling inside.

Well, it’s 2am and I have to work at the store tomorrow. I took the past 8 days off to get my freelancing stuff in order, but that ended up getting backed up anyway when one of my external hard drives crapped out. That’s what I get for trying to render to a USB2.0 drive, and it’s why I’m getting a couple 1TB FW800 drives in a couple weeks. Hooray for nerdery!

A New Brand Post.

logobar.jpg

If you had to choose three brands that define “you,” what would they be? I’ve been thinking about branding lately and how it affects my purchases, and how it could even define who I am.

When I started thinking about it, the first two were really easy. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge Apple fan, and that I also love Volkswagen products. When I had to come up with a third, though, I struggled a little bit. I tried to think of physical places that I visit regularly, and when I realized that Target was my third brand, I wasn’t really all that surprised. Sure, I could have easily picked Premier Studios, the company I work for, as the third brand, but that seemed a little contrived. And while I just passed my first-year anniversary at Premier, the company itself is beginning to re-establish its own brand and figure out its niche, so it would be a little premature to choose it. It’s definitely interesting to be a part of it right now, though.

Volkswagen, Apple and Target. A car company, a hardware and software manufacturer and a big box retailer. What do those three have in common? Well, for one, they aren’t entry-level brands. There are plenty of lower-tier brands that each competes with, but these three come out as “premiums” of sorts. Granted, some more than others in their respective markets.

In Europe, Volkswagen is as common as Ford or Chevrolet is in North America. In the U.S., however, VW competes with those two brands but also with marques like Volvo and MINI and others. Volkswagen happily banks on its German heritage and the reputation for quality that comes with it. Target has K-Mart and Wal-Mart, but is easily the highest-quality store of the three.

Apple is a unique case. Sony, HP and others have been trying for years to match Apple’s innovations in terms of hardware and software technology, as well as the design and function of Apple’s products. Yet no one can match what Apple seems to do so effortlessly, or so it seems, since the company is shrouded in mystery until new products are announced.

But I still haven’t answered my own question: What do these brands say about me? Well, again, Apple and VW may not be everyone’s preferred brand when it comes to buying a computer or a car, but I would go as far as to say the people who do choose them are more likely to be enthusiasts for the brand. Any car will get you from point A to point B reliably, and most people see their cars an appliance to do only that. Enthusiasts, however, see their cars as part of the driving experience. Whether they’re going across the country or across town, enthusiasts see the journey as important as the destination. Personally, I love my car, but chances are you already knew that since you’re here. I like VW’s ad campaigns, I like the design of their products, and I like that they’re a little more rare than the typical beige sedan.

Apple enthusiasts are more vocal than car enthusiasts, and, I’m sad to say, I’ve proved that myself more than a few times here, on friends’ sites, and on various other forums. Apple is a very polarizing brand and there appears to be very little middle ground between “I LOVE APPLE!!!!” and “I HATE APPLE!!!1” I think what it all comes down to is that nobody wants to feel like they made a bad decision. Computers, like cars, are big investments and unless you have an unlimited source of cash, you have to commit to your purchase for at least a couple of years. So it’s only natural to defend your decision (usually online) when someone who made a different purchase calls you out.

That these two brands appeal to me might suggest that I prefer exclusivity and going against the grain. So then how did Target make the list? Again, Target is the best of the top three big box retailers (at least in my opinion), and like Apple and VW, they have ad campaigns with simple messages and clean design.

But unlike Apple and VW, Target is plenty popular and not really seen as an “exclusive” brand. For me, however, the decision between K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Target is not even a contest. Target stores are clean and bright, and even though they’re all a little bit different inside (there are five in the KC metro that we visit regularly, and no two are alike), it’s still easy enough to find what you need without having to search. This is one area where Target is easily head and shoulders above the other two. The only time I visit a Wal-Mart is late at night, which also happens to be when the stock is being replenished. This means there are pallets all over the place, especially in the main aisles, blocking what would otherwise be unimpeded shopping throughout the store. And don’t get me started on the clientele…

Maybe it’s the simplicity of the advertising message that drew me to the brands in the first place, and the benefits of each brand (VW’s design, Apple’s ingenuity, Target’s entire “feel”) that keep me coming back. Familiarity is a big part of it, too. I already know before I walk in the door of a new Target that I’ll be able to find what I need. I know that the Volkswagen Rabbit that Sonja bought or the Passat my mom bought are going to be as enjoyable as my own. And I know that a new Apple computer is going to be as easy to use as my old Powerbook, which is still going strong after almost four years.

I realize that a lot of what I’ve written here is doing exactly what I mentioned above. I’m justifying my past and future purchase decisions by explaining what drew me to them in the first place. That’s not what I set out to do, but it’s interesting, to me at least, that that’s where it ended up. So, any thoughts of your own?

4:46pm Friday

After some weird behavior in the past few minutes with Dreamhost deciding that it wanted to show the old blog instead of the new one, it appears to be fixed. I am sitting in one of the Avid editing suites at work, waiting for the last few minutes of the day to pass so I can put this week behind me. There are strange things happening here, and it seems like they’re only just beginning. Sometimes I feel like this place runs pretty smoothly, and other times it feels like we’ve lost a wheel or two. Anyway, it is Friday, and that alone is reason enough to celebrate, even if only for a couple days, because come Monday, I’ll be right back here, waiting for the weekend.